Conflict Management #2

The Issue
So… what is the most prominent issue here? They’re all busy, but that’s not it. They’re all feeling misunderstood and misused, but that’s not it either. While they’re chronically frustrated with each other, there’s something else: they have each formed conclusions about the others from assumptions, and most of what they believe is not true.

This team will fracture soon. Most likely Jon will be the scapegoat, since he takes the most active negative role. Heather and Greg will find themselves venting to each other; Heather will feel validated by being taken into the pastor’s confidence, and Greg will appreciate Heather’s sympathetic ear. They’ll create between them a caricature of Jon that will make them feel good about recommending his termination to the elder board. They’ll already have candidates in mind by the time Jon gets the news.

Most churches have some sort of covenant agreement that includes healthy truth-telling, but few know how to do it when it’s most needed. In these all-too-common situations, members experience confusing and uncomfortable words and vibes from the others that are unintentional and misunderstood. They quietly start distrusting each other, fearing that clarification will only bring conflict. They pretend everything is OK, and hope that things will get better if they leave things alone.

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